British Columbia is only one of 10 provinces and three territories that make up Canada, but when Team Canada takes to the field in Beijing on Aug. 8 for the Olympic Games B.C. will account for slightly over one-third of Canada’s 331 athletes.
This year 114 Canadian athletes going to the Games were born or reside in B.C., which is about 34 per cent of the total.
The province is best represented in cycling, with two-thirds of the 15 spots. Riders include mountain bikers Seamus McGrath, Geoff Kabush, and Catherine Pendrel; road riders Svein Tuft, Ryder Hesjedal, Erinne Willock and Alex Wrubelski; BMX rider Scott Erwood; and track riders Gina Grain and Zach Bell.
The province also boasts two-thirds of the 18 players on the women’s soccer team, and most of the men’s field hockey team and rowing team. Athletes have also qualified in diving, swimming, synchronized swimming, water polo, athletics, badminton, baseball, canoe/kayak, equestrian, artistic gymnastics, modern pentathlon, sailing, shooting, women’s softball, taekwondo, triathlon, weightlifting and wrestling.
The team will walk in behind kayaker Adam van Koeverden, who was named as the team flag bearer last week. Van Koeverden won gold and bronze medals in Athens in 2004, and is the reigning world champion in the 500 metre event.
As for the much ballyhooed Canadian flag-bearer curse, it should be pointed out that since Jean-Luc Brassard failed to win a medal in 1998 three out of four flag bearers have reached the podium — kayaker Caroline Brunet, speed skater Catriona Le May Doan, and hockey player Danielle Goyette. Nicholas Gill, who was controversial for once professing to be a Quebec separatist, is the exception after going out in the first round of the judo competition.